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Dicey learned early that hard work is essential to maintaining independence; now, at 21, she pursues a vocational goal so relentlessly that she imperils all she holds most dear--in this somber conclusion to the Tillerman cycle. Jeff wants to marry Dicey, soon; Dicey loves him deeply and for the right reasons, but puts him off: she has dropped out of school hoping to support herself--and the family--by building boats. Though she has worked diligently for a nest egg and lovingly reclaimed a collection of old tools in preparation, she is underfunded and--worse--unprepared in more essential ways. When the tools are stolen, she learns she should have been insured; she loses her only order because she lacks a contract; instead of actually building, she takes on the grueling task of painting 30 poorly made rowboats in order to meet expenses. Meanwhile, an enigmatic, silver-tongued drifter helps Dicey understand how narrow she has become and pitches in with the work--for which he finally exacts his own bitter price; and Dicey is so absorbed that she ignores Jeff for weeks and doesn't notice that Gran is seriously ill until it is almost too late. No one who loves the Tillermans--whose joys and troubles are as compelling as ever--will want to miss this. As a novel on its own, driven though Dicey is, it is more than a cautionary tale about a workaholic; the brothers' and sisters' experiences are richly textured and carefully interrelated, with Maybeth's failure/success especially telling in contrast to Dicey's. Dicey's flight from marriage may seem insufficiently explained by her yen to build, but might in fact have been predicted from her parents' traumatic relationship. Dicey's union with Jeff has been long foreseen; here, their coming together seems less inevitable and sadly bleak. Still, with her usual skill, Voigt convinces us that this is the way it would be.
Pub Date: April 1st, 1989
ISBN: 0689851332
Page count: 352pp
Publisher: Atheneum
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15th, 1989


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